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Maybe I need Anger Management therapy...

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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:47 AM
Original message
Maybe I need Anger Management therapy...
...although I am a convinced Friend, a pacifist, and a believer in non-violence. I would have said, to the core of my being, but I am a little shook up now, and I am wondering.

I'm familiar with transitory feelings of rageful violence, upon being confronted with some horrific crime or injustice-- that "Damn, I want to pound that asshole's head against the wall until there's a spot soft enough for enlightenment to seep through" feeling. I've gotten that a lot in the last seven years. But I don't wallow in it, I remind myself that it's just an endocrine surge and that violence doesn't make for any lasting and constructive change. And so forth. I don't beat myself up for it, not much, anyway. It's human.

But for the last few days I've been doing a slow burn, and it bothers me. My stomach roils with acid a lot, I find my eyes narrowing and my fists clenching. The desire to HIT someone, something, to cause DAMAGE... keeps rising up within me no matter how hard I try to rationalize or meditate or pray it away.

It started on Sunday when my esposo and I took a guest with us to visit the IAIA's Contemporary Art Gallery in downtown Santa Fe. (Institute of American Indian Arts.) The current exhibition is themed around violence, war, and the damage it has caused to Indian people and their communities. The art was wrenching, but what really got to me was a video showing on a loop in their theater.

It was a Sioux filmmaker's documentary about American Indian veterans of the Viet Nam war, their experiences in the war and in coming home, and, finally, their creation of a network of veterans among all the Indian nations, to support one another and help each other deal with the problems of having been in Vietnam and coming home to a nation that had nothing to offer them in the way of healing.

One man told of being part of a unit that was tasked with moving civilians out of areas being designated as "kill zones"-- areas that would be systematically emptied and defoliated to eliminate any cover for enemy reconnaissance or advances. Once the civilians were moved out, anything moving within the area would be assumed to be enemy action and large-scale ordnance would be applied. The man narrated his experience trying to get the people from their villages into trucks and helicopters, evacuating them to "safe areas." And he realized that their skin was almost exactly the same color as his-- one of the civilians, an old man, kept trying to give him a chicken, and pointed to his own arm, and then the soldier's, and saying 'same, same.' It hadn't really sunk in what they were doing, but he realized when the last truck left and they started herding the livestock into the open to kill them, and burning the village structures, 'This is what they did to my people, to my grandparents and great-granparents.' And he stopped believing in the war, and stopped believing that he was doing anything good. Two weeks later he was wounded.

Others told of similarly gut-wrenching experiences. Some weren't all bad... one Navy Corpsman told of experiencing respect from non-Indians for the first time in his life, and being grateful that he learned to save lives rather than take them. But a lot of them came back feeling "empty" or "changed."

The good part to the film was the story of getting the inter-tribal veterans' alliance started and how healing it was for them. It took them twenty years, and the work was still going on. That was good, but as I watched it I suddenly burst out (aloud, yes, right there in the theater,) "And twenty years from now it will be all to do over again, we haven't learned a goddamn thing!" And I started crying. My esposo put his arm around me and we sat there until the end and then we went out, but that was when the slow burn started.

We haven't learned a goddamn thing. I lived through that nightmare as a civilian, I watched the ghoulish body counts on the evening news and had my soul riven by the bloody photographs from My Lai. I knew what we left behind, the blackened, poisoned land, the abandoned half-American children, the devastated economy and war-brutalized people. And I knew what we brought home-- the men with empty eyes and terrible opiod habits, the homeless, the ones whose bodies were slowly deteriorating from the contact with Agent Orange and the other poisons we flung about. And what never came home... the names on the Wall and the ones whose bodies were never found and whose families even today don't know their fate.

And I knew the utter stupidity and futility of the reasoning behind the nightmare, the sophistries of the villains and worse-- the well-intentioned ones, who rationalized it and then didn't have the guts to pay the full price, the real price, to accomplish the goal and who left half a million young Americans and millions of Vietnamese in hell for more than a decade while they played political games on the world stage. Especially the ones who knew that if the American people truly understood the real price it would have cost to win, the American people would have said "Fuck THAT shit, we're outta there, NOW..." and so kept lying and lying and lying about how victory was just around the corner and we were accomplishing great things and Vietnamization was WORKING, really!! Believe it! Tet was just a fluke! The carpet bombing would finish off an already disheartened VC leadership and destroy their support among their own people... All that crap they fed us to keep the lid on it, to keep the fat defense contracts raining down on the big corporations, to keep the commie-haters happy and the narcissistic power-hungry prats prancing about in Paris and the UN in front of the cameras, pretending something important was being accomplished.

I knew that was shit even while it was going on. I figured, finally, when the balance tipped and half a million marched on Washington and the politicians began to get more scared of staying than of going, that it would be one of those Learning Experiences that, for all their awful price, at least carry the nugget of hope that we wouldn't ever, EVER be stupid enough to make those mistakes again.

And now this feeling of disbelief mingles with rage and it just won't go away, not for long.

All to do over again. Bigger and better. More expensive, more destructive, more futile than ever. A whole new generation of men and women WE sent to war for no good reason, who put their mortal bodies between us and the IEDs that OUR stupidity provoked, who have paid prices that we sitting in our comfy living rooms listening to the god damn nutcracker for the fourteenth time this month can't even begin to contemplate. And once again, having sent them to get fucked up over there, we are now ensuring that the ones who make it home are getting another thorough fucking up over here.

It's the well-intentioned ones that rend me the deepest. The ones who went along because there might be something in it, who continue to go along because they 'see the bigger picture.' The ones who dutifully propose a few bright-colored bandaids for the sucking chest wound of our inadequate care for those wounded and damaged on our behalf, and rail earnestly at their colleagues for not doing more, but who stop just short of putting their political futures or their careers on the line to make a real difference. Because, after all, they ARE well-intentioned, and isn't that better than being dyed-in-the-wool assholes? In the long run, isn't it better to have well-intentioned marginally effectual people representing us than real shitheads?

I guess so. I don't know. I'm not sure anymore. For the first time in a long, long time I can't talk myself out of the gut-level belief that if I could tie ONE, just ONE of those idiots to a chair and slap them silly and rub their noses in the full extent of the crap their well-intentioned self-interest has flung us into, I'd feel better.

At the moment, I don't like myself very much. That will change, eventually. Intellectually I know that I'm resilient and will once again remember my humanity and that my flaws aren't any worse than the rest of humanity's. I will abandon, finally, the spiritual vanity of holding myself to a higher standard and then judging myself harshly for falling short of that standard.

But at the moment, I just want to bust some heads.


Thought y'all would want to know.

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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:58 AM
Response to Original message
1. k&r. It just sucks. eom
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:29 AM
Response to Original message
My parents are Vietnamese. They lived through that war, saw it all. They lived in the South, and they left when the South fell and the communists won. They became one of several hundred thousand "boat people" to flee. They eventually made it to the United States where I was born.

I remember talking with my mother once about the war and what she remembered. I don't know how the topic came up. I believe, perhaps, it was something she saw on TV that jogged her. It was an old documentary about bombers, and she saw a B-52 being featured, how it can carry 108 500lbs. bombs and so forth. She wasn't big on military technology or weapons, but she said she remembered seeing the white streaks left in the deep blue sky as they flew overhead. She was very specific about that particular bomber. She remembers because she watched them rip open the countryside with craters and thunder.

If you had binoculars, you can see the dark silhouette of the bomber against the sky, and if you were lucky enough, you could see its shape if the bomber flew low enough. She knows the shape very well. She knows the shape like she saw it yesterday.

I don't know how many civilians were caught underneath those bombs or in the war in general. They say 2,000,000 civilians were killed by the end of American involvement. I don't know how many Afghanis or Iraqis have had the misfortune of seeing the same white streaks before the thunder rolled in.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then Kissinger would be hanging from a noose.
America has instead celebrated a mass murderer, among others.

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crikkett Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 05:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. profound piece, SwampRat
That one hurts to look at. Good job!
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. I wish, I really wish that someone who speaks the many languages...
...of the Vietnamese and Hmong and Lao people who came to America after Vietnam would collect stories like your mother's. I know many of her generation speak English quite well by now, but there are many who still do not. I think it's important that those stories be preserved. I wish we had a place like the Shoa or the Holocaust Center to collect them.

Thank you for sharing your mother's story. I miss the many Hmong and Vietnamese people who made the Twin Cities their home in the 1980s, they were wonderful neighbors. I'm hoping that the Folk Art Museum here in Santa Fe will do a story cloth exhibition someday. Some of the story cloths that tell of wartime experiences are so sad and so beautiful.

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HCE SuiGeneris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:36 AM
Response to Original message
4. I hope relaying the story
has helped alleviate some of the stress... May you find some solace soon. :hug:
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Dammit Ann Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:26 AM
Response to Original message
6. Goddamn.
I can still be moved. Thanks. You are me in thirty years, I can feel it. Make sense? Probably not. Does to me.
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crikkett Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 06:19 AM
Response to Original message
8. I'm sorry that your anger is so overwhelming.

Anger is useful because it prompts us to action, to right wrongs. But it can be too powerful, don't let your anger eat you alive.

My landlady is Vietnamese and she's practically my fairy godmother. In Vietnam she had a bad life, I mean there was a war on, and she dodged bombs too. She was also the youngest girl which isn't the most advantageous spot in an Asian family. But anyway she met her husband who brought her here. She's sponsored (rescued?) nearly 30 members of her family, since, who've gone on to have prosperous lives and successful children. There's a whole community of people who she's fairy godmother to. Her biggest worry at the moment is the pruning of her fruit trees.

My point is that we all have circles of influence and control. There are some things we can't control, these evil things that cause such senseless tragedy but in the end we are also able to see that real and honest good comes out of them, and we can't control that either. Who knows how mankind will advance because of Iraq and Afghanistan -- one thing, we'll have to put a stop our own homeland's fascism in order to end the Iraq occupation.

Anyway I'm not saying Vietnam was right because my landlady's here. I am saying that she's played her hand well and made a good life for herself and others.

What can you do to answer that burn in your stomach that tells you to make it right, or else? Can you work with vets? Can you simply help your elderly neighbors? Mentor kids? Join the local draft board? Can you dedicate time to lobbying efforts? Continue writing to enlighten us?

Good luck and thanks for your essay.

:hug: have a good night...
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. Thanks for your thoughtful reply...
...and you are correct, it is wise to stay conscious of the limits of our control and influence, and work within them wherever possible. But as a downthread poster says, sometimes it is the awareness of those limitations, the recognition of how constrained our ability to influence large events has become, that adds to the anger.

I do some reading aloud at the veterans' hospital, to those who can't read for themselves, and when we had extra cash we supported Fisher House charities. I'm a regular correspondent to Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman and even, gawdhelpme, Pete Domenici, keeping them aware that yes, we their constituents care what they do and want them to represent OUR interests, not those of the fat defense contractors who benefit from All War All The Time.

I do what I can. But it's such a tiny drop of water on such a vast and burning desert.

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Ferretherder Donating Member (991 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 06:49 AM
Response to Original message
9. Hi, TygrBright. I was just thinkin' about you the other day.
It's been so long since I saw some of your work - which, like this, is always well written and thought-provoking.

...just wanted to say hi, really.

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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #9
17. hiya, ferret... thanks for the feedback!
I'm always heartened by the reminder of what a caring community DU really is, in spite of our squabbles...

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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 07:00 AM
Response to Original message
10. It may be the feeling of futility, . . .,
of not being able to do enough that is fueling your continued fury. The powers that be have worked very hard to make us feel impotent, as it tends to suppress action.

It is very hard to move a mountain, but there are rocks along the way that can be shifted. And people along the path that can be recruited to rock shifting with you.

I hope you can find a way out of the despair, as it will corrode from within.
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. A very insightful observation, annabanana...
...and you're quite right. The futility does add to the negative feelings. They HAVE been successful at disempowering we, the people, who are their bosses and who in fact, still own this country and its government.

Because we let them.

And that may be the most stinging realization of all.

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GreenEnvy Donating Member (7 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
11. Likewise
It helps me to know that I'm not alone in the grief that I've clung to for the past 7 years. The only positive side I see is my increased fervor to define my values. I've changed churches, became a vegetarian, joined a local environmental action group, hosted political parties and made contributions to democratic candidates, and put my money down on the counter for only those objects that meet the approval of my newfound value set. The disheartening part is, I'm still a rabid and irate voter who feels as though my voice doesn't count. I'm a believer in Karma, so there has to be a huge ground swelling movement on the horizon that will hold these individuals who have perpetrated and allowed these crimes accountable.
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 09:17 AM
Response to Original message
12. I feel compelled to say be cautious before "going on the record"
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 09:19 AM by tom_paine
In any way with your "anger management" issues and in particular you might want to sanitize them to remove any references to Bushler or his Evil Bushies and their destruction of Old America as a source of your pain.

Now, you might feel me :tinfoilhat: or melodramatic about this, so please feel free to disregard this advice.

But, as we all know, every individual except those partially or totally off the grid, whenever we go on the grid,are filling our Bushie File of Where to Find and Catch the Free People file, for when Crunch Time comes (and it is almost a certainty now that it WILL come, whether we get a brief rest from Bushie Vampirism in 2008 before the next Royal Bushie comes along to pick up right where the Imperial Family left off in 1/2009).

Going to an anger management class, in which, especially if insurance is being paid, will record not just where and when you went to your anger management classes, but WHY.

In my opinion based on what we have all seen and know, if the WHY box is filled in with something like "what the Bushies are doing to America and the world is my main source of my anger issues", then you suddenly pop up on their radar, and your Civilian Threat Assessment Code (or whatever it is actually called, but I call the "Loyal Americans to be Rounded Up when Crunch Time Comes" list) will rise dramatically.

When crunch time comes and/or Condition Red, yours will be the among the first houses the Bushie Block Captain and his VIPS thugs will visit. / /

Even 10 years ago, this WOULD have been paranoid fantasy. Now, all the technology is in place as well as the near-complete destruction of the System of Checks and Balances, that far from being a paranoid fantasy, it is quite likely and quite reasonable, particularly given the logarithmic increases in computing power.

I know, it's upside-down, but what isn't upside down in this Empire these days. War IS peace, it turned out and slavery IS freedom, or so we are told to believe by every orifice of the MSM Infoganda Machine.

Just something to think about. You might say that DU, with all our laughable beliefs of anonymity for our posts, is a more damning record of our being Loyal Americans (which is the worst enemy of a Loyal Bushie) than anything you could say at an anger management class, and it might turn out to be so.

But if there is still, as the Bushie Arch-Criminals like to call it "stovepiping" that doesn't automatically red-flag most or all DUers as Civilian Threats (i.e. Americans Loyal to the Founders and the Constitution), then your visit to the Medical/Psychological establishment certainly WILL.

Just my two cents. I feel awful in bringing this up, as it essentially amounts to telling you not get help for something that is bothering you and all of us, really.

But reality is reality, and going on record say that Bushie Criminality is the source of your anger issues is like going to a German psychologist in the early 1930s (worse, even due to the technological advances in recordkeeping) to complain that Hitler and the Nazis are giving you agita.

Something to think about...
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. Thanks for your concern, tom_paine...
...and I'm well aware of the dangers. But honestly, the file on me is SO thick, and goes back SO far, that it's unlikely I'd escape the crosshairs in any event.

And I wouldn't really want to.

I would be proud to be the first on my block to be interned for standing up to evil.

But I suspect I don't have nearly enough power to be collected in the first round, anyway.

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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
13. Your anger is appropriate
Without it of what use is your CHOICE to be compassionate or gentle in your emotions? You are obviously a person who is honest with yourself and the world. Without knowledge of your shadow side you would be half the person you strive to be. It would be a sad commentary on who you are if you didn't feel this kind of gut rage for the plight of others. You probably know perfectly well that you won't act on this rage, so just acknowledge that it brings up a dark side of you that enables you to understand all the aspects of humanity and accept that it makes you more aware of the importance of choosing to act on your higher and better nature. Only foolish people believe that they must be perfectly good. Where's the choice in that?
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. lunatica, that's very wise counsel...
...and I will endeavor to apply it. You are quite right that even the most negative feelings can be transmuted into positive insights.

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
14. I hear ya, Bright
It's so frustrating to see how little we have learned, how much pain, suffering and death we continue to perpetuate across the world, how blind most people are to it. It's infuriating to not be able to fix it. I don't have time at the moment to write something equally long in return to your post, but please know that others out here are feeling the same rage, and looking for a viable outlet to channel it into real change, real human learning and enlightenment, and not finding it, yet. :hug:
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femrap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
15. K and R
Bright, I know exactly how you feel. If we don't find some sort of activity to counter that Anger, it can turn inward and one ugly Depression can set in.

Anger is actually a very good thing in some helps us identify an injustice in the world or an injustice toward ourselves.

All I can say is DO something....however small that may be. I have been writing the Blue/Bush Dogs and the Dems on the Judiciary Committee telling them to find their balls/ova and Impeach. I don't see how the war will end if W is still C in C.

Do you have a Women in Black group in your area? Wear black, find a heavily trafficked area and stand there for a hour every week with signs for Peace. We stood on Fridays as people were leaving work between 4:30 to around 6:00.

Type up a short handout which tells the public the 3 worst aspects of war.

Know that you are far from alone...too bad we can't use Anger as a sustainable energy source...I'm sure I could keep NYC lit for a week!

Take care.

P.S. When someone tells me that I'm too angry, I ask them if they are living under a rock.

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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
21. Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger and courage
Anger at the way things are, and courage to make them the way they ought to be.

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
22. I hear you, Bright
Many days I alternate between anger at the continual malfeasance of the Bush gang and the complicity of too many Democrats and despair at the way the majority of American people seem to accept it.
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sicksicksick_N_tired Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
23. I am right there with you.
You are managing quite well, IMHO. I believe managing negative feelings requires an acknowledgment rather than denial of their existence.

I believe you are strong. Your willingness to look both within and outside yourself requires great strength. That strength is applied to your anger by re-directing it to fuel the courage to act on behalf of matters/people greater than yourself.

I think you are just fine!!!
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
24. You put words to feelings that many of us share...anger, frustration and a sense that it is all so
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rucognizant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 07:56 AM
Response to Original message
25. I'm with you!
I have this molten lava pit bubbling at the center of my being, has been there for 7 years! I am not currently teaching art to kids because of it.
I think you should send this letter to newspapers all across the country, research the more liberal ones. You may reach many people who are just beginning to awaken to how they have been fooled.
Someone called in on the Republican line to cspan last week. He was opposed to ? one of the many offenses slowly being revealed. Lamb was suspicious that he was a Democrat calling in on the wrong line ( they are so anal about that) But he defended his choice well and confessed to having voted Repug twice and now he was awake and furious!

ANGER management? No WAY! You are justifiably angry. Keep it, use it. DId the Patriots of 1776 take anger management classes?
I regularly call the free Congress line or the WH and express my anger openly, like some avenging Goddess! They listen because I am smart and know my facts. I can't really tell if it is working............but it makes me feel better! WHo knows if the Dems might not even be taking these painful baby steps if some of us weren't doing this.
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